Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Warzone Season 1 Reloaded — Ranked play, a new map, and another crossover with The Boys

(Image credit: Activision)

We’re officially halfway through Season 1 of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Warzone‘s shared content, which means it is time for the teams of developers working on the COD beast to serve up a fresh new map, limited modes, and more. 

Reloaded updates for post-launch seasonal content also come tied up with weapon balances and patches for the game, however, additional information about those will not be released until closer to the update launch window. In the meantime, here’s everything we can look forward to with Season 1 Reloaded.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Season 1 Reloaded — Release date

Blackcell Season 1 battle pass operators. (Image credit: Activision)

You’ve shed the holiday trimmings and grown tired of the Meat grind, so how long will you have to wait to get some fresh new content in Modern Warfare 3? Season 1 Reloaded will be coming to MW3 and Warzone both on January 17 starting at 9AM PT/12PM ET across all platforms. Gone are the days of staggered updates for Warzone and the accompanying multiplayer for the year. One patch to rule them all!

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Season 1 Reloaded — Multiplayer map and modes

Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer gets new content including a new map, limited time modes, and another crossover with The Boys for Season 1 Reloaded. (Image credit: Activision)

CODMAS is over, and Shipmas 24/7 has been put away for another year. Highrise, too, has returned to its usual state, and we’ve moved on to the oddly timed spooky decor of the Vortex event. Even that will come to pass with Season 1 Reloaded, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a new map, modes, and events to look forward to as we inch closer to Season 2.

New map: RIO

An upscale shopping center in Río de Janeiro is the latest map to join the playlist lineup for MW3.  (Image credit: Activision)

Sledgehammer Games seems to really be digging the tight-quartered mid-size map layout for Modern Warfare 3. Players will spawn into Rio with Season 1 Reloaded, finding themselves deployed to a shopping center in Río de Janeiro, complete with colorful buildings and even an abandoned tram. The shopping center is central to Rio, with longer sight lines around the edges. There looks to be a lot of opportunities for flanking around the interior of the center for those aiming to take out the players holed up in the upper levels. 

Rio is a medium-sized map with a layout that will encourage gameplay similar to what we see on Greece, which was added at the launch of Season 1.

New mode: Team Gunfight

New game modes are coming to Season 1 Reloaded on January 17. (Image credit: Activision)

Gunfight has become a surprisingly popular playlist for Call of Duty, but the mode has been traditionally been limited to small maps and team sizes of two, with occasional limited-time-modes bumping squad counts up to four players. Season 1 Reloaded will allow Gunfight to take place on a larger scale for the very first time, with teams of six spawning into all available standard multiplayer maps. 

At the start of each round, all players will receive the same randomized loadout. The first team to wipe their opponents with the given loadout will earn a point for the round. Each round brings with it a new loadout and a new chance for your team to score, with the game ending after six rounds.

New mode: Headquarters

Another popular mode from Call of Duty past, Headquarters, will return in Season 1. (Image credit: Activision)

Headquarters isn’t necessarily a “new mode”, but it’s new for Modern Warfare 3, having been left off the game’s playlist rotation since its launch in November 2023. The objective game mode spawns a headquarters zone on the map, which player squads can claim and hold. 

Respawns are disabled for the defending team actively holding the headquarters, so you really need to work together to communicate with your squad if you’re going to face the onslaught of incoming reinforcements from the opposition.  The objective does not stay static and will rotate to different zones of the map throughout the match’s duration, so stay frosty and keep your squad on point. 

New mode: Infected

Players in a match of Infected in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. (Image credit: Activision)

Like Headquarters, Infected is not necessarily a new mode, but it is making a much anticipated appearance in Modern Warfare 3 for the first time. The free-for-all mode has made itself a staple in first-person shooters, with players all spawning in as Operators until the start of the match, when one player is randomly selected to become infected. The infected player, armed with throwing knives and a melee only loadout, must take out the Operators. Operators who fall to an infected player then become infected themselves and must attempt to take down their former allies.

Survivors must hold out with nothing more than a pistol and rugged optimism if they want to make to the end of the match without becoming one of the horde. 

New mode: Ranked play

Ranked play, developed and supported by Treyarch, will be coming to Modern Warfare 3 during Season 1 Reloaded. (Image credit: Activision)

Finally, us casuals can get a break from the sweaty movement kings when Ranked Play launches with Season 1 Reloaded. Or, at least, that’s what we’re hoping for. Also, it’s me. I’m the try-hard. Anyway, Ranked play is coming! 

Multiplayer Ranked Play is developed and maintained by Treyarch, and it brings competitive 4v4 matches with Call of Duty League rules to the playlist rotation.  This means some of your favorite equipment, weapons, and killstreaks are likely to be restricted in Ranked Play, and friendly fire is enabled for all matches. The following modes and maps will be available for Ranked Play when it launches on January 17:

  • CDL Search & Destroy on Highrise, Invasion, Karachi, Skidrow, and Terminal. 1.5-minute round timer with no respawns. 
  • CDL Hardpoint on Invasion, Karachi, Skidrow, Sub Base, and Terminal. 5-minute time limit or 250 score limit with 60-second objective rotation.
  • CDL Control on Highrise, Invasion, and Karachi. 30 lives per team with a 1.5-minute time limit and 3-round win limit.

All Ranked Play players will start with their season rank set to Bronze I, and you must have already reached level 55 in multiplayer before you can test your competitive mettle. Ranked play will have 8 Skill Divisions for players to work their way through by earning Skill Rating (SR).

Personal and team performance during a match can both affect your SR, so keep your squad tight and watch where you’re aiming. Inactivity, rage-quitting or being disconnected during matches, and repeated friendly fire can all impact your SR. Players who are having a particularly good run will find themselves on a Hot Streak with a fancy new flaming rank which progresses with more wins. Lose a match or idle for 72 hours, however, and you’ll have to start your streak over.

To balance matches, players will be dropped three tiers from their end-of-season rank when a new season starts. No player will be able to start a new season in the future with a rank higher than Diamond I. The following rewards can be unlocked in Season 1:

  • Win five Ranked Play matches to earn the “MWIII Season 1 Competitor” Weapon Sticker.
  • Win 10 Ranked Play matches to earn the “Pro Issue Gutter Knife” Weapon Blueprint.
  • Win 20 Ranked Play matches to earn the “Script Writer” Weapon Charm.
  • Win 30 Ranked Play matches to earn the “Built Different” Large Decal.
  • Win 40 Ranked Play matches to earn the “MWIII Ranked Play Season 1” Loading Screen.
  • Win 50 Ranked Play matches to earn the “MWIII Season 1 Ranked Veteran” Weapon Camo.

Players can also expect Skill Division rewards based on their final placement at the end of the season.  Players who earn a Bronze or Silver rank at the end of Season 1 will be awarded the Season 1 emblem. Reaching Gold through Crimson ranks will unlock a Ranked Play-themed Operator Skin and weapon charm, along with an animated emblem reward for the corresponding Skill Division.  

Iridescent players will earn the MW3 Season 1 Iridescent animated calling card as well as the previous rewards. 250 players who reach the top of the Ranked Play leaderboards will unlock the Top 250 Operator Skins, weapon charm, unique animated emblem, and calling card while the #1 player will receive a one-of-a-kind emblem and calling card.

I’ll probably never earn that, but it’s okay to dream.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Season 1 Reloaded — Zombies

Some players have expressed concerns about MWZ’s new Warlord, Dokkebai, declaring the antagonist is too similar to an Operator from Rainbow Six Siege of the same name. (Image credit: Activision)

With Treyarch hard at work getting Ranked play up and running for MW3, Zombies has been a little light on new content for Season 1. The launch of the season brought new aether rifts and some slight changes to the end game for the MWZ, but it’s Season 1 Reloaded that will introduce players to a brand-new Warlord. 

Players will encounter Dokkaebi, an operator versed in electronic warfare, and her fleet of self-programmed autonomous drones in the fortress at the top of a skyscraper in Zaravan City, part of Urzikstan’s Exclusion Zone in the MWZ. The fight will pose a new challenge for Operation Deadbolt operatives as she weaponizes drones, turrets, and even a Wheelson against player squads. 

South Korean-born Dokkaebi has already turned player heads due to the antagonist’s similarities to an operator from Rainbow Six Siege with the same name, raising concerns that the character is plagiarized. This wouldn’t be a first, as Sledgehammer Games faced criticism for allegedly stealing concept art to create a dog-like operator for Call of Duty: Vanguard that was ultimately never released.

Call of Duty: Warzone Season 1 Reloaded — New win conditions and gulag event

Players dropping into Warzone for Season 1 Reloaded will have new options for win conditions. (Image credit: Activision)

Not every squad can make it to exfil at the final circle. That’s just the nature of Warzone. Or at least, it was. Season 1 Reloaded will introduce a new Champions Quest challenge to keep players on their toes if they want to execute a total end-game for their win scenario, and early exfils are introduced at a cost for those who want to win without waiting for that final fight.

New win condition: Covert exfil

Traditionally, only one team ever makes it out of Warzone alive, but all that is about to change. Covert exfils will now allow squads to leave a match early, but they come at a cost and are limited in availability. Only five exfils will be available from Buy Stations around Urzikstan, and players must exfil before the gulag closes if they wish to execute a successful victory. Calling in a covert exfil gives any player the opportunity to fly out of the match alive, and players who successfully win via covert exfils will find a spot on the new leaderboard.

New challenge: Champion’s Quest

Bring the end game to Urzikstan. (Image credit: Activision)

Urzikstan has a new Champion’s Quest for Season 1 Reloaded. Not sure what the Champion’s Quest is? This special contract was originally only available to players who had achieved 5 consecutive Battle Royale wins. The contract required the squad to find and assemble a nuke before detonating it to trigger a game-ending cutscene, with the squad who completed the quest taking the victory. 

The Champion’s Quest challenge has been absent from Warzone as the game switched from Al Mazrah to Urzikstan for the primary Battle Royale map, but it is returning with Season 1 Reloaded with a new condition. Squads can still attain the contract by winning 5 consecutive matches, but players who do not win constantly now have a chance at the nuke, as well, if they can win 30 games total within a season. 

Players will still need to complete a multipart challenge to claim victory, and the rewards, for the new quest. 

New challenge: Weapons case

One weapon case will spawn during each Warzone match. (Image credit: Activision)

Like Headquarters and Infected, the Weapons Case is not necessarily new for Season 1, but it is making a return to the franchise. Players will have an opportunity each match to locate a single weapon case somewhere in Urzikstan. Finding the case comes with special challenges, however, as the player holding the weapon case is marked on the tac map for all players in the match to see. 

The player with the case, should they manage to stay alive and carry it throughout their entire time in Warzone, will have the option to initiate a secondary win condition with a covert exfil or fight it out to the brutal end. Escaping Urzikstan with the weapon case will bestow the player and their teammates with unique and exclusive rewards.

New public event: NVG Gulag

Operators dual for victory in the gulag and the opportunity to rejoin their squad mates on the battlefield.  (Image credit: Activision)

We love a good public event, and it’s the Gulag that will be affected by the latest addition. For the first time, the lights will go out as two operators face off for a shot at rejoining their squad mates in Urzikstan. Equip your night vision goggles and stay frosty to take out your opponent from the shadows, or use the cover of darkness to ascend the rope for a victory devoid of bloodshed.

Call of Duty Season 1 Reloaded — New weapons, operator bundles, and events

It’s not a new content announcement without new additions to the store. While players will be able to unlock the previously announced weapons via challenges, they will need to hit up the store with some of those hard-earned (or purchased) COD points for Operator bundles and weapon blueprints. 

New weapon: HRM-9

The new HRM-9 SMG can be unlocked via an Armory challenge. (Image credit: Activision)

You can’t have a new close-quarters map without a new SMG. The HRM-9 base weapon can be unlocked via Armory challenges and is slated as a light and stable 9mm submachine gun that can put enemies down quickly thanks to a high fire rate and excellent handling. 

This is for the run-and-gunners who can quickly snap into ADS or Tac-Stance. If you need to add some range to the HRM-9 so you can survive those mid-range engagements, you can do so in the gunsmith with a new barrel and the appropriate ammunition. Or you can dial in on the SMG’s up-close-and-personal side, making it even more dangerous for your foes when you inevitably bunny-hop around a corner at them.

New weapon: TAQ Evolvere

(Image credit: Activision)

Long live the LMG, the versatile weapon that can knock out infantry and vehicles alike with considerable ease. The TAQ Evolvere is a multi-caliber LGM that is versatile and well suited to a wide array of attachments which can be found in the gunsmith. Players can unlock the TAQ Evolvere by completing a weekly challenge. 

New skins: CDL 2024 Team Packs

CDL Team Packs will feature both male and female operator skins for your favorite teams in Home and Away variants. (Image credit: Activision)

If you can’t wait to unlock your own CDL Ranked Play operator skin, you can pick up a Team Pack to represent your favorite CDL team. The 2024 Team packs will be available in the COD store and will include a new male and female Operator skin in both the Home and Away variants. The packs will also include addition team-themed offerings such as weapon camo, charm, stickers, and an animated calling card. The Call of Duty League kicks off its first event on January 25. 

New operator bundle: A-Train

A-Train will be available in the COD store as a playable Operator bundle. (Image credit: Activision)

The Boys are back. Again. I’m not a fan of crossovers, but there have been nearly as many in Call of Duty as Fortnite at this point, so this is just my in-game life now. If you’re a fan of A-Train you will be able to dominate the battlefield with this new Operator Skin. 

The bundle also includes two weapon blueprints with tracers: the “Turbocharged” assault rifle and the “Fast AF” smg, a “Here Comes the A-Train” animated calling card, A-Train weapon sticker, “Turbo Rush Energy Drink” weapon charm, and “World’s Fastest Man” animated emblem. There’s even an A-Train loading screen and “Fastest Man in the World” finishing move.

New operator bundle: Firecracker

Firecracker will be available in the COD store as a playable Operator bundle. (Image credit: Activision)

Along with A-Train, Firecracker will also be joining the COD roster as a playable Operator. This bundle will include two weapon blueprints with tracers: the “Smoking Gun” assault rifle and the “Fellow Patriot” LMG. A “Firecracker” weapon sticker, “Second Protects” weapon charm, “Eagle Eyed” animated emblem, and “Freedom of Speech” finishing move will also be included in the bundle. 

Players will be able to use the crossover bundles in Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer, MWZ, and Warzone, but not Modern Warfare 2 or DMZ.

Limited-time event: Supe Siege

To celebrate the second crossover with The Boys, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 players can look forward to the limited-time event, Supe Siege. This new version of Kill Confirmed sees eliminated operators dropping doses of Temp V. Collect the Temp V and use it to turn the tide of battle by unlocking temporary power ups like Heat Vision. Playing the Supe Siege event playlist will unlock event rewards for complete challenges: 

  • Get one Operator Heat Vision elimination in The Boys mode (Reward: Calling Card).
  • Deactivate 20 pieces of Equipment using DDoS (Reward: Emblem).
  • Get four Operator eliminations using the MTZ-762 (Reward: Battle Pass Tier Skip).
  • Get two Operator eliminations in a single life with the Overkill Vest equipped, five times (Reward: Large Decal).
  • Get 15 Operator Akimbo eliminations (Reward: Weapon Charm).
  • Get seven Operator eliminations using Lethal Equipment (Reward: Double XP Token).
  • Mastery Reward: Complete all six challenges to unlock the LMG weapon blueprint “The Boys Special”.

Onward to Season 2…

Season 1 Reloaded marks the halfway mark of Season 1, so you’ll want to make sure you take the time to finish up any remaining battle pass sectors. Players can expect Season 2 to launch approximately 30 days after Season 1 Reloaded begins, and a new battle pass, Blackcell pass, maps, and events will be on the horizon. 

Modern Warfare 3 is expected to receive 6 Seasons of content in its first year post-launch. The end of Season 6 will most likely usher in this year’s premium Call of Duty title, which is rumored to be a return to the Black Ops series by Treyarch set during the  Gulf War of the early 90s.

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Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She’s a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays. 

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eternalrhage@gmail.com Cole Martin